Travel insurance for children and young people with cancer

Organising travel insurance for a child or young person who’s been diagnosed with cancer can be challenging. But it is possible to find reasonably priced insurance with a bit of effort. Below are 10 things to consider before you start searching.  

1. Start early

Before you even book a flight, speak to your consultant to make sure your child is fit to travel. Some insurers will want a letter from your doctor confirming this.

If you can, start with travel insurance, see what your options are, and build a trip around that. Whatever you do, don’t leave sorting out travel insurance to last minute. You’ll need to shop around more than if you were arranging insurance under normal circumstances.

Travel insurers use a screening process to work out the risk of needing to pay out against any conditions you say your child has. It’s important to declare your child’s cancer, otherwise the insurer may not pay out if you need to make a claim.

2. Know where to look

Your bank

It’s worth checking if you have travel insurance attached to your bank account, especially if you’re paying a monthly fee. If the policy covers family members too, you will need to let them know about your child’s diagnosis and they will tell you what (if anything) you need to do.

Specialist insurers

Travel insurers which describe themselves as ‘medical travel insurance specialists’ are most likely to take your individual circumstances into consideration. The screening process asks more questions to tailor your cover. Specialist insurers can sometimes cover more complex medical conditions and are more likely to provide cover if your child is waiting to start treatment, waiting for tests or investigations or has a terminal prognosis.

Travel insurers

Many travel insurers cover people with pre-existing medical conditions like cancer. Most use the same system used by the big price comparison websites. These are usually automated, so you’ll be asked the same questions as usual, but the price, cover benefits and excesses will vary.

Banks and the high street

Many banks, and high street stores like Boots and the Post Office offer insurance that covers children and young people with cancer.

3. Don’t spend lots of time on comparison sites

Comparison sites can be a useful place to start your search, but limit yourself to one or two. They all do the same thing, more or less, so if you try one and don’t get a good result, don’t waste your time trying others.

To save you trawling through results, we've put together a handy list of travel insurers, based on feedback from parents. It gives details of companies known to provide cover for children and young people who've had a cancer diagnosis. Take a look!

4. Have all the details about your child’s cancer to hand

The screening process will ask questions about your child’s treatment and medication, so having this information to hand can help speed up the process.

If your child is under 17 you’re likely to need an adult on the policy as well.

5. Be prepared for high quotes if you’re travelling to certain destinations

The cost of the policy and level of cover is usually based on how long it’s been since your child’s last treatment, what medication they’re taking, where you’re going and the length of the trip. Countries where insurance is likely to cost more include: Spain, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, USA, Canada and the Caribbean. The rest of Europe is generally considered lower risk. 

6. Don’t assume an insurer will offer cover if they did for someone else

Insurance companies each have their own rules and regulations, and screening processes. For example, how long they take a cancer diagnosis into consideration after a child or young person has been given the all-clear can range from six months to 10 years. This is why it can sometimes be that a friend gets a good deal from a particular company while your quote is sky high.

7. Opt for a single trip policy

Most cancers will be excluded on an annual multi-trip policy. A single trip policy, booked not too far in advance, is most likely to get good results.

8. Always check the policy wording  

It's very important to check the wording of the policy to make sure it covers everything you need. Cheaper insurers in particular may not cover cancellation if your child becomes ill ahead of travel, or have exclusions for private hospital care. This can have serious consequences if your child gets poorly in a country with bad public health facilities. These insurers may not pay for air ambulances or getting your child back home, which could leave you and your family stuck abroad for weeks or even longer.

9. Don’t rely on an EHIC card

An EHIC card provides free or reduced cost emergency medical treatment in public hospitals within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

Don’t rely on an EHIC card in place of travel insurance though. Public hospitals in some countries may fall below UK standards in things like nursing care and cleanliness. Good quality travel insurance would allow you to move to a private hospital if the public hospitals aren't a good standard. An EHIC card also won’t cover the costs to get your child back home, even in an emergency.

10. Final checklist of questions to ask

  • Does the insurer offer cover for cancellations? Does this include cases where a terminal prognosis has been declared?
  • Does the policy cover any expensive medical equipment you need to take with you?
  • Does the policy include cover for private healthcare? Will it get you home if you need to get back before the end of your trip?
  • Does the policy cover lost or damaged medication?
  • Does the insurer have an emergency helpline you can contact if necessary?

Where next?

Created December 2017, next review due 2018.